a peek inside the fishbowl

23 Feb, 2012

Kindness, part two

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Yaktivism

Part one is here. Thank you for your feedback!

I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness and compassion lately, especially given the upheaval my family has been going through lately. This week being Kindness Week, there have been a lot of great ideas and posts floating around about this topic. For me, every single one of these conversations comes down to one thing: the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. It’s so easy, and yet kind of astounding at the same time. We can all live this way, yet many do not.

I have to ask: what kinds of things can we do to make our community better? And why is this important?

It’s so easy to lose sight of the big picture, isn’t it? By the end of the day (after family stuff, work, dinner, laundry, etc.) we’re often too tired to think of things beyond what’s on TV at the moment. But we must be aware, we must, because there are a whole lot of people in our community who can use some help. We cannot forget about these people.

An especially important part of Kindness Week, I think, is to talk about how to make Ottawa a better place to live for people who are off the radar and may not otherwise cross our paths. If there’s anything I’ve learned during my time with the Youth Services Bureau, is that there are an awful lot of people out there who need help. They aren’t the kind of folks we encounter as part of our daily routines and so it’s easy for them to fall outside our thinking. We forget about them as we lie on the couch, nodding off while watching the evening news. They are practically invisible. And this is wrong.

It’s almost too overwhelming to think about.

Awhile ago I had the opportunity to pay a visit to the Youville Centre. This is only one of many Ottawa organizations that is working hard to make our community a better place to live. The Youville Centre, if you haven’t heard of it before, is place where young mothers receive an accredited high school education and participate in individualized programs and parenting courses. This is from the Youville site:

While the mothers are in school, their infants and toddlers are enrolled in the on-site day care. The children benefit from a quality early childhood learning program that addresses the social, emotional, cognitive, language and physical needs of each child. Nutritious meals and snacks are served daily.

Staff provide crisis intervention and counselling, advocacy, and referrals for current students, clients on Youville’s waiting list, and former students. A young father’s program is also delivered at Youville. It consists of a weekly support group, parenting support, individual counselling and a father/child drop in.

Through the Youville Centre, many young parents have obtained high school graduation diplomas. Several have gone on to college or university. Others have entered the world of work to enjoy rewarding and profitable employment.”

While I was there I got to see, firsthand, the great work that Youville does and how they are helping provide young women and their children with a good start and a brighter future. They’re giving them a leg up where there may not have been one.

If you’re looking for a way to make our community better, I recommend checking out Youville. They are struggling to find funds to pay for programs and services, and they depend entirely on donations and some government funding. Youville accepts cash donations, but also welcomes gently used infant and toddler clothing, clothing suitable for teenage students, toys, and various household items such as linens and dishes. Donations can be dropped off at the Centre between 8 and 4 on weekdays. Larger items are needed too (such as high chairs, sofas, etc.) but they ask donors to please speak to the Donor Coordinator at (613) 231-5150 ext 128 beforehand.

ETA: Check out a great blog post about about the Youville Centre over at Kids in the Capital.

I think we already agree that the smallest things can make a big difference. And I think the spirit of kindness and compassion is an infectious one. If all of us did small things to make Ottawa a better place to live, it will become a better place to live. How could it not?

I asked this in my first post but I want to pose it here again today; what if someone told you that you had a superpower, and that this superpower gave you the ability to change people’s lives?

Kindness starts with you, so what will you do with your superpower today?

4 Responses to "Kindness, part two"

1 | Karen

February 23rd, 2012 at 12:17 pm


I was very moved by our tour of Youville. I wish so much that I had the $40,000 in my bank to give them for their recent funding loss.

It is my great hope that getting the word out about what they’re doing will spur more people to help in the name of kindness to women who will get a much-needed boost from the work Youville is doing.

2 | sd161

February 23rd, 2012 at 1:17 pm


The Youville does fantastic work and they are so needed in our city. There is a perception of Ottawa as being a well-to-do city, and it definitely has its share, but there are an awful lot of people who also need help, and the Youville fills a very specific and very needed niche.

One little thing (and it is so easy!) I have always done, was to keep an ongoing bag of little toiletries that came my way. My ex-husband used to travel once in awhile on business and he’d come back with those hotel shampoos, soaps, etc. When I had a bag filled, I passed them on to a friend who works at a women’s shelter. They always need this stuff- women and kids often show up without a thing. I also throw in samples of things I’m given in stores (certain smells bother me, but might be nice for someone else).

3 | Youville Centre

February 23rd, 2012 at 2:56 pm


Thank you so much for your kind words and for remembering our clients during Kindness Week. We are so lucky to have supporters such as you in our community! It is because of our caring community that we are able to continue serving young mothers and their children.

4 | Meet Cindy Simpson, a community builder (plus a little something special for Fishbowl readers) >> a peek inside the fishbowl

May 19th, 2015 at 10:35 pm


[…] of key services to a vulnerable part of our community: adolescent mothers and their children. Here’s a post I wrote about this organization awhile back but getting to know one of the women behind it was my motivating factor this time […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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